Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nineteenth century manias

Child #1 is addicted to collecting Dr Who cards - and, rather weirdly, his finger nail clippings (although I think the latter is more about grossing me out than a serious hobby). 

Child #2 collects marbles. And child #3's vice is caterpillars. Dead ones.

All a little bit odd. But hey, they're my kids, they can  blame their kooky genetics, so who am I to cast the first straight jacket?

However, I  was recently leafing through a wonderful old tome, GOSSIP FROM PARIS (for the third time - the book is just like a nineteenth century version of People magazine) and I'm feeling a little relieved. Some of the collection and hobby fads of nineteenth century Paris make my kids seem very, well, normal.

Such as:-

"Potichomani" - the transformation of plain old glass jars into glazed works of art;

"Seal collecting" - not the collection of flippered sea-mammals, but of the wax seals of royals and celebrities (Victor Hugo's seal apparently bore the motto "faire et refaire", sound advice for a writer!);

Pottery and china - the more avid collectors were known to cover every square inch of their walls, and ceilings, with soup tureens, saucers, tea cups and plates; and

Autographs. Not so unusual, you say. Except that the briskest trade was done in the exchange of autographs of convicted murderers. Apparently, the autograph of  President Lincoln's murderer, John Wilkes Booth, was the big time.

The more things change, the more they stay the same ...

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